Wednesday 18 September 2019

Ireland refocus the minds as sights are now on securing a fifth-place finish

Ireland under-20 head coach Noel McNamara. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Ireland under-20 head coach Noel McNamara. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

As the U-20s World Cup moves to Rosario, Ireland would much rather be involved in a semi-final clash, but as it is, they find themselves scrapping it out for fifth place.

In terms of the injury toll, it has been a tough campaign for Ireland, yet their performances on the pitch have left plenty of cause for optimism for a bright future.

Noel McNamara's young side will rue not getting at least a losing bonus point in the defeat to Australia and now must quickly refocus the minds and ensure that they finish as high as possible.

Standing in their way is an England team who Ireland have already beaten twice this year and they will come into the game full of confidence on the back of a thumping win over Australia.

"We're pretty knowledgeable of England, particularly this year," McNamara acknowledged.

"It's the third instalment of a three-Test series. We're really looking forward to that challenge."


Having rested several front-liners for the win over Italy last week, McNamara has recalled his big guns - or at least those of them who are still standing.

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There is a debut for Aaron O'Sullivan on the right wing. The former Wasps youngster is currently in the Leinster Academy and will be eager to make the most of his opportunity.

Fresh from his outstanding display against Italy, Ben Healy retains his place at out-half, which means that Jake Flannery continues at full-back.

Munster pair Craig Casey and Jonathan Wren are also restored to the starting XV in a further boost to the back-line.

Up front, Charlie Ryan returns to skipper the team from the engine room alongside Tom Ahern with Ryan Baird switching to the back-row. Connacht hooker Dylan Tierney-Martin starts and will be looking to finish an excellent season on a high.

Regardless of the result this evening, Ireland will have another game on Saturday. They will be doing everything within their power to ensure that they are playing for fifth place come the weekend.

Verdict: Ireland

Ireland U-20s - J Flannery; A O'Sullivan, L Turner, D Ryan, J Wren; B Healy, C Casey; M Milne, D Tierney-Martin, C Ward; C Ryan, T Ahern; R Baird, R Watters, A Allison. Reps: D Adamson, T Clarkson, J Wycherley, J McKee, B Deeny, N Murray, L Cohessy, C Reilly, R Russell, C Foley, A Kernohan, M O'Reilly.

England U-20s - Tom de Glanville; O Sleightholme, F Dingwall (capt), C Redpath, J Hodge; M Vunipola, S Maunder; K Owen, W Capon, J Heyes; J Kpoku, A Coles; R Capstick, A Hinkley, T Hill. Reps: N Dolly, O Adkins, J Kenny, T Willis, R Tuima, O Fox, C Doherty, T Seabrook, L James, O Hassell-Collins.

Ireland U-20s v England U-20s, Live, 7.30, eir Sport

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